Alex Sanderson has named his side as Sale Sharks prepare to face London Irish at the AJ Bell Stadium tomorrow night. The Sharks Director of Rugby makes four changes to his XV as World Cup winners Faf de Klerk and Lood de Jager join Ben Curry and Simon McIntyre in returning to the starting line up this weekend.
The in-form Sharks make three of their four changes in the forwards this week as Alex Sanderson chases a fifth consecutive league victory. In the front row Simon McIntyre swaps places with Ross Harrison and starts alongside Curtis Langdon and Coenie Oosthuizen.
Jean-Luc du Preez moves to lock after starting at openside flanker versus Northampton. The Springbok is joined by fellow South African Lood de Jager who returns to fitness following two weeks on the sidelines.
The fit again Ben Curry returns to the Sharks back row and links up with club captain Jono Ross and the imposing Daniel du Preez at number 8.
Faf de Klerk moves from the bench to start alongside the mercurial AJ MacGinty at half-back tomorrow night. The pair will be looking to outsmart an experienced London Irish back line in front of a home crowd.
De Klerk is the only change to a Sale back line currently firing on all cylinders. Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Robert du Preez line up at inside and outside centre again following a string of impressive performances from the midfield pairing.
Try scoring supremos Arron Reed and Tom Roebuck retain their spots on either wing and have the calm head of Sam James supporting them from full back.
On the bench, Ross Harrison offers front row cover alongside Tommy Taylor and Joe Jones, while Cobus Wiese and Cameron Neild offer further options in the forwards.
Raffi Quirke, Connor Doherty and Byron McGuigan cover the backs.
Sharks DoR Alex Sanderson: “We really feel like we’re finding some form and I’m dead chuffed with the lads. But, we’re still no where near in terms of the end of the season and if you allow yourself to start to smell the roses this early you invite losing that intensity and that desire. You have to keep pushing to keep getting better.
Sale Sharks are undefeated against London Irish in their nine most recent Premiership encounters and have won the five most recent home matches by margins of 28 points or more.
London Irish’s last away match resulted in a 49-32 victory against Bristol Bears, with those 49 points being the most they have scored away from home in a Premiership match since February 2015 (50-12 v London Welsh).
Alex said: “London Irish aren’t lucky – they are where they deserve to be because they make their own luck. They seemingly have an ability to shelve anything that’s gone before and attack the game in the last quarter probably better in the first. They are a very dangerous team when other teams get tired.”